Here’s the most juicy part of this series, all the people the Mets could actually trade for, along with a potential deal for each. I get to play Baseball Maverick for a few minutes here, and boy does it feel good. I am Sandy, hear me roar. I went through the rosters of almost every team in the league (I didn’t bother looking at the Phillies for two reasons that are interconnected. First, the mere sight of their roster is bad for one’s vision, which also means they have no players who could be useful for the Mets.), and picked out all of the players whose acquisition could help the Mets. I will order them from the least to most desirable option. You may look at some of these names and groan, but all of these guys are upgrades over what we’re dealing with currently, whether it be in the lineup or off the bench. One of these guys will likely be a Met by August 1:
What is Jean Segura exactly?
Ruben Tejada with offensive upside.
He has a great first half two years ago which earned him an All-Star spot, but has been a train wreck at the plate since then. However, he’s a very good defender, and he’s still young. There’s reason to believe in him, because not just anyone can post an .849 OPS in half a season at age 23. The case against him, though: literally his entire career otherwise.
I happen to be a believer, and we’ll see how he looks when he reaches his offensive peak years, but in the short term, he’s not much of an upgrade. But, he’s a useful asset, just in case he gets his offensive form back.
I’ll get to the tangible trade later, because it’ll involve one of his teammates.
A Toronto Left Fielder
Age: 30, 31
Role: Left Field
Okay, so I sort of lied when I said that the Mets won’t be getting a slugger from Toronto. They very much could get one of their less heralded bats, Danny Valencia or Chris Colabello. I know exactly what you’re doing right now. You’re smirking, shaking your head, and thinking, “he can’t be serious. This is what’s going to get us over the hump?”
My response: yep.
The pitching is great enough, that the smallest boost to the offense could mean the difference between making the Wild Card game, or sitting at home and watching the playoffs.
I’m combining Colabello and Valencia because they are essentially the same player.
Valencia is 30 years old, and under team control through 2018. He’s a third baseman by trade, but with Josh Donaldson manning the position in Toronto, he’s been playing a lot of left field. He’s mostly known for owning left-handed pitching, but this year he’s hitting .299/.331/.526 overall, and his numbers are relatively similar no matter what type of pitcher he’s facing.
(Random nugget while I was looking through Valencia’s page on FanGraphs, supposedly he hasn’t hit a single pop out in 146 plate appearances this season. Inconsequential, but interesting nontheless. I’m sure by the time you’re reading this, he will have popped out to third base five minutes earlier.)
Chris Colabello is a former independent baseball player who’s in the middle of his first full season in the big leagues. At 31 years old, he won’t even be hitting arbitration until 2017, so if the Mets acquired him, they’d expect him to at least be a bench piece for the next few years. His 140 wRC+ will certainly drop, even if he has a higher line drive percentage than Mike Trout (25.8% to Trout’s 24.8%), but he’s been great this year, and if his production the rest of the year is anywhere close to what he’s already shown, he could be the best hitter on the Mets down the stretch.
The reason why they’re so low on my list is because the fluke potential is off the charts with these guys. Neither is an everyday player on their current team, and there’s a very good chance that they each had great first halves, and are poised to fall off as the season wears on.
However, if all else fails, it won’t be the end of the world if the Mets have to settle for one of these guys.
So how would an actual deal between these two look? The Blue Jays need a pitcher, there’s no secret about that, so Jon Niese will be shipped North of the border. The Mets won’t be getting great value for Niese if they only get Colabello or Valencia, so the Jays should throw in a mid to low level prospect or two who the Mets can potentially develop. The Alderson regime has certainly had an eye for prospects who weren’t very highly regarded, picking up Dilson Herrera and Vic Black in what should have been a throwaway deal with Pittsburgh, and even snagging Wuilmer Becerra from these very Jays in the Dickey trade. After looking through Toronto’s prospect list, there are a few guys who caught my attention. Be warned, however, that I don’t know which of these guys the Blue Jays value highly, so while I may be off on which players they’d be willing to trade, it’ll be guys generally in that range. Here’s something that feels fair for both sides:
Mets Get: Chris Colabello/Danny Valencia, Andy Burns, Rowdy Tellez
Blue Jays Get: Jon Niese, Player to be Named Later
Role: Left Field
His stats look good on the surface, but, I’m only stating the obvious when I say these five letters:
He’s essentially an average hitter away from home, but he’s on this list because that would be an upgrade somewhere on the team. If acquiring Paulsen were the only move made at the deadline, I would be very upset. However, he’ll be a nice piece to have. He’s mainly a first baseman, but has a decent amount of experience in the corner outfield positions, which makes him a less versatile, but offensively superior version to Eric Campbell, and less Soup in our lives is best for everyone involved.
The biggest downside with Paulsen is that you’re greeted with this when you visits his Baseball-Reference page:
As for the deal, Paulsen doesn’t really have all that much value, and the Rockies aren’t looking to contend right now, so I’m going to go with some damaged goods, as well as a decent pitcher, because everyone knows the Rockies are always for looking less terrible pitching options.
Mets Get: Ben Paulsen
Rockies Get: Dillon Gee, Cesar Puello, Seth Lugo
A Cleveland Indian Designated Hitter
Age: 33, 34
Role: Corner Outfield
Here are two more players who are virtually interchangeable, Cleveland’s David Murphy and Ryan Raburn. Murphy’s a lefty, and Raburn is a righty, but otherwise they’re similar. Both are bad defensive players who ideally would be limited to DHing, but can be forced into a corner outfield if need be.
Need exists in Flushing.
Much like the guys in Toronto, it would be silly to expect either of them to continue their current performance through the end of the season. Murphy is hitting .307/.357/.458 while Raburn is hitting .287/.371/.508. Impossible for these guys to continue that level of play. However, both of these guys have pretty long track records of being very useful. Murphy has more experience as an everyday player, going back to his days with the Texas Rangers, but Raburn was a regular in Detroit for a while as well.
The issue here is their age, and in turn, the sustainability of their stats. Raburn was abysmal in 2014, while you have to go back to 2012 to find a year in which Murphy was above average for a full season. One of these guys will certainly be an upgrade on the bench, but what version of them appears if pushed into an everyday role is a question.
Also, they’ve each pitched this season, so they could be a boost to the bullpen if needed. I’m looking at you Alex Torres.
The Indians actually need offensive help, if they want to contend this season. However, it’s possible that they fall further back in the race over the next couple of weeks, making both Murphy and Raburn potentially available. Each has a team option for next season, which does increase their value a bit, but neither will demand a great return.
Mets Get: David Murphy/Ryan Raburn
Indians Get: Matt Bowman, Seth Lugo
Role: Left Fielder
After tearing up the Cuban National Series prior to being signed by the Dodgers, as well as Triple-A last year, Guerrero has been good this year in LA. He has a super aggressive approach at the plate, and his .267 OBP is certainly a major issue, but the Mets just have to take what they can get at this point. The good part is, he has a lot of pop in his bat when he gets a pitch to drive. That sort of approach is probably better suited for a bench role, but again, with the current state of the Mets, I’m okay with putting him in the starting lineup. He swings at pitches outside of the zone 8% more than average, and makes contact on outside pitches 10% less than the average hitter. He showed a lot more patience when he was in Cuba, so maybe that’s something which can be fixed.
So what’s so enticing about him?
That .490 slugging percentage.
By the way, the Dodgers need a starter. If they strike out on Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto, Jon Niese is a decent option.
Mets Get: Alex Guerrero, Scott Schleber
Dodgers Get: Jon Niese, Matt Bowman
Role: Right Field
Venable has recovered nicely from his fiasco of a 2014, to a slightly lesser version of what he’s always been. Venable is an okay defender in center, and has always hit fairly well. He won’t blow anybody away, but he’s a very solid player. He will be able to provide some power and speed to any lineup. For the Mets, he’d essentially be Curtis Granderson with a lower OBP. I’ll take it.
He won’t cost much by way of assets nor cash. He’s a free agent at the end of the year, but it won’t be difficult to retain him especially given his age. The Padres will be pawning off pieces at the deadline to fix all the mistakes they made during the offseason, so they’re just looking to get some sort of value out of Venable.
Mets Get: Will Venable
Padres Get: Casey Meisner
Role: Right Field, Center Field Platoon
The Diamondbacks need to deal one of their outfielders. Whether it’s Inciarte or a teammate of his who I’ll mention later, a trade will help their rotation which is in desperate need of some solid pieces. Playing Yasmany Tomas in right full time opens up a regular spot in the lineup for Jake Lamb, which he deserves.
Inciarte is in short, a lefty Juan Lagares who isn’t quite the defensive superstar, but light years more polished offensively than Lagares at this point. If I see Lagares at the top of the lineup once again simply because he’s fast, I’m going to cry. He’s not a good hitter, and right now, he’s even worse than expected. He’s so bad at the plate that no matter how good he is defensively, he’s a net loss. He certainly has the potential of being a league average hitter, which is what he was in 2014, but he has a lot to work on.
Inciarte, however, is already an average offensive player. Much like Lagares, he doesn’t walk very much, but his .287 batting average recovers a lot of the value lost by his aggressive approach. He’s shown a lot more patience and power in the minors than he has in just over a full season in the big leagues, so there’s certainly reason to believe that he’ll develop into an even better hitter.
He’s currently an immediate upgrade at a corner outfield spot and at the top of the order, and assuming there are other moves made either at the deadline or in the offseason, the Mets could greatly benefit from platooning Lagares and Inciarte, or even dangling Lagares on the trade market to see how highly other teams value him. Lagares has a higher offensive ceiling, but the Mets don’t need to wait around to see him maybe get there if they have Inciarte.
He won’t solve the current offensive woes by himself, but if they were able to get another player along with Inciarte, I’d love it. They’d be building for now, but with an eye towards the future as well.
He’s under team control through the 2020 season, which should drive up his value, but I think he’s worth it.
Mets Get: Ender Inciarte, Domingo Leyba
Diamondbacks Get: Rafael Montero, Gabriel Ynoa/Michael Fulmer
Scott Van Slyke
Role: Right Fielder, First Base Platoon, Pinch Hitter
If the Dodgers planned to trade one of their bench pieces and a prospect for a pitcher, it’ll probably be between Guerrero and Van Slyke. Van Slyke is clearly the more desirable of the two.
He’s been a part time player for the Dodgers his whole career, being stuck on a team which seems to always have more outfielders than they need. but he’s been great in his role as a backup and pinch hitter. He’s in the midst of his worst season, and he’s still having a much better year than most Mets. I’ve always wanted to see how he’d do starting for some team in the league, because I think he’s earned that right. If the Mets aren’t comfortable with that experiment yet, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t be, he’s a more than capable bat off the bench. In his career, he’s 15-for-46 as a pinch hitter with three home runs, so at the very least, he can be expected to fill John Mayberry’s role, except he’ll actually produce.
Mets Get: Scott Van Slyke, Austin Barnes, Jacob Rhame
Dodgers Get: Jon Niese, Rafael Montero
Role: Right Field
Reports surfaced last night that the Tigers would be willing to listen to offers for David Price and Cespedes, which surprised me because the owner turned 86 years old yesterday, so I didn’t think they’d want to rebuild.
I think Cespedes is overrated. He burst onto the scene in 2012, but has yet to reach those heights since. His walks are down, which greatly affects his OBP. His raw power is amazing, and his throwing arm is very impressive, but he’s not advanced enough as a hitter to justify giving up the farm and giving him a huge contract.
However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he’s better than what the Mets have now. He’s a free agent after this year, and while I wouldn’t pay him a ridiculous amount of money, I could see the Wilpons being willing to dole out $15 million a year for him. They would have to re-sign him in order for this trade to make sense, but trading a prospect for an above average major leaguer at the same position is fine.
The thing with Cespedes is, the Mets can easily give up less in a trade and get similar, if not better overall production in return. The player won’t be as flashy as Cespedes, but a lot of the hype around Cespedes is hot air.
Mets Get: Yoenis Cespedes
Tigers Get: Brandon Nimmo
Role: Right Field
Rasmus’s career has always been a little bit disappointing, but not terrible. He never fully developed into the star player he was expected to be when he was rising through the minor leagues in St. Louis, but he’s turned into a good three true outcomes hitter. His batting average is not pretty, but he’ll get the job done. It also happens to be a great time to buy on Rasmus because he’s entering his offensive prime. Maybe he can finally put it all together. Even if he doesn’t he’s an upgrade over what the Mets are running out there currently. He’s a free agent after this season, but I don’t expect him to command a ridiculous amount of money.
The ‘Stros will be looking for a starter at the deadline. With George Springer out, they might be reluctant to trade Rasmus, but in the long run, it might make sense because once Springer returns, they’ll have three capable outfielders alongside Preston Tucker and Jake Marisnick. Houston will be in the market for other starting pitchers, and have been linked to Scott Kazmir, but Niese is a good fallback option.
Mets Get: Colby Rasmus
Astros Get: Jon Niese
Role: Middle Infield, Utility
Offensive production and defensive versatility is what Ben Zobrist is all about. It’s unclear how much longer he’ll be this good, because he’s well into his thirties, but for now at least, he’ll be a great addition to the Mets. He’d probably be best playing shortstop over Ruben Tejada, but Terry Collins may also decide to stick him at second base while moving Wilmer Flores back to short. Being a switch hitter, he could start in right against a right-handed pitcher if Michael Cuddyer is in an extended slump (so, all the time), and shifting Curtis Granderson and his noodle arm to left field. The options are really endless for Zobrist, and there’s a lot to love about that. Not to mention the fact that he’s reliably above average at the dish every year.
The deadline will be a major success if the Mets were able to acquire Zobrist along with this next guy.
Role: Right Field
Throw out his bad 2013, and you’ll see that Reddick has been very good each year that he has gotten regular playing time. He had that 32 home run 2012 season which got him noticed for the first time, but while he’s only on pace for 24 dingers this year, the power numbers are overall the same, and he’s getting on base a lot more, thanks to a simple change in his approach. He doesn’t strikeout as much as he used to, because he’s stopped hacking at pitches low and away. That conscious change bodes well for his future. He’s a good player with a year left on his contract who’s about to get to the best years of career.
The Athletics will seemingly always be looking to contend very soon, so they would like a prospect or two who is in position to help the team next year. Alderson calls up the man he mentored, and we have a great trade on our hands. Whoever Billy Beane prefers out of Fulmer, Montero, and Ynoa will go. Niese gives Oakland a good lefty starter entering his prime, which will be important especially if they trade away Scott Kazmir. It’s also possible that they don’t want Niese, which is okay with me, so they can take two of the three young pitchers.
Mets Get: Josh Reddick, Ben Zobrist
Athletics Get: Jon Niese, Brandon Nimmo, Gabriel Ynoa/Michael Fulmer/Rafael Montero OR Brandon Nimmo, Rafael Montero, Gabriel Ynoa/Michael Fulmer
Role: Right Field
If I were in the Arizona braintrust, I would look harder at trading Peralta, because he has higher trade value, and therefore should bring back a better return than Inciarte. The difference in offensive talent between the two shouldn’t matter to a team that’s already one of the best offenses in baseball.
Peralta was pretty good last year in 88 games, but is absolutely tearing it up this season, hitting .275/.348/.502 with 7 triples on the year to date. The lack of publicity surrounding him may make it look like this is a fluke, but at his age, and with his track record in the minor leagues, no one should be shocked by this. I don’t think he’s going to be quite this good for so many years to come, but even a diminished version of what he’s doing at the moment will make him a staple in the middle of any order.
Mets Get: David Peralta, Player to be Named Later
Diamondbacks Get: Jon Niese, Matt Reynolds, Rafael Montero
Role: Right Field
I’ve always been a huge fan of Parra’s, and now that he’s having by far his best offensive season, other people are taking notice. Always known for his great outfield defense, he’d been a pretty average to below average hitter, never posting a wRC+ above 106. But this year, he’s been great, hitting .313/.348/.500. There’s some cause for concern, as his home run to fly ball ratio is far better than his career average, which may be a sign of some luck, but his hard hit ball percentage is also up, so there may be something to it. As I’ve mentioned with a few other guys already, the fact that he’s entering his prime now at age 28 means that there’s a chance this is sustainable.
Now here’s where the aforementioned Jean Segura comes back into the fold. If the Mets were able to get both Segura and Parra, the deadline will have been a success. Parra’s in a contract year, which depresses some of the trade value he otherwise would have had, but the upside of both is what teams will pay for.
Mets Get: Gerardo Parra, Jean Segura
Brewers Get: Rafael Montero, Matt Reynolds, Michael Fulmer/Gabriel Ynoa
Role: Right Field
His awful 2014 made me forget how good he was prior to that. He’s a much better and more consistent version of Rasmus in that they’re both three true outcome guys, but Bruce had career averages of .257/.330/.482 prior to last year. Mind you, he’s playing in a left handed hitter’s heaven in Cincinnati, but even when adjusted for park effects, his track record is very good. I’m comfortable ignoring what he did last year because he’s right back to his normal self in 2015. It’s unclear what caused his drop off, but it seems to be a non-factor anymore. He’s signed through 2016 with a team option for the ’17 season at a pretty good price. He has an absolute cannon out in right field, and he’s also deceptively quick. What’s not to love about him.
Mets Get: Jay Bruce
Reds Get: Brandon Nimmo
Role: Right Field
Ah, our former prospect could return seven years after being one of the main pieces of the Johan Santana trade. I was sad to see him go at the time, but of course I was fine with it. Since then, he’s developed into one of the top center fielders in the game. He fully broke out a couple of years ago, hitting for more power than he ever had in his major league career. I actually picked him to be NL MVP this year because I thought the Brewers would be able to snag the second Wild Card spot (I was wrong). Overall he’s having a down year thanks to a slow April and an injury, but he’s turned it around, and has hit .279/.352/.462 since May 11. He’s a free agent after next season, and he’ll be in very high demand if the Mets don’t lock him up beforehand, so they really need to be proactive in keeping him around.
Much like the trade with Parra, I’d expect Segura to be involved as well. I would include Juan Lagares in this deal, but he’s such an offensive zero right now that I don’t think another team would be comfortable making him their center fielder of the future. However, Brandon Nimmo…
Mets Get: Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura
Brewers Get: Brandon Nimmo, Matt Reynolds, Rafael Montero
Role: Right Field
Upton’s name has always been bigger than his production, and I say that as a longtime Upton believer. At the same time, he’s still very good. Grantland contributor Rany Jazayerli put it best: Justin Upton’s career has always been “simultaneously valuable and a little disappointing.” His impending free agency kills some of his trade value, but he will be able to help any team who he joins in their playoff hunt. And who knows, maybe now that he’s about to peak, he can finally become the All-Star who he’s supposed to have been this whole time.
Mets Get: Justin Upton
Padres Get: Brandon Nimmo, Rafael Montero, Marcos Molina
Role: Third Base/Corner Outfield
Frazier is the best name on this list and it’s not close. I only have him here as an idea rather than a thought experiment. I don’t know what to think about a possible trade involving Frazier. What exactly would it take. I would heavily consider trading Syndergaard for him, but would it be that pricey? He won’t be a free agent until after the 2017 season, which means the Reds would want a lot in return, but a few of the Mets’ other top prospects could do it. Or maybe not, I’m not really sure. Either way, there’s also a chance that the Reds simply hang on the Frazier and rebuild around him as the franchise cornerstone, despite the fact that he’s already 29 years old.
Mets Get: Todd Frazier
Reds Get: Noah Syndergaard OR Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer/Rafael Montero/Gabriel Ynoa, Gavin Cecchini
So those are all the options, but what will Sandy Alderson do? I think the most likely scenario is the one involving. All things considered, especially the frugality of the ownership, Parra is the most production player the Mets can get at a bargain price.
I’d set the marker for a successful trade deadline right between Paulsen and Murphy/Raburn. if the best management can do is bring in Ben Paulsen, then they’ve failed. Swinging a deal for one of the guys from Cleveland, or any of the other people higher on my list, I’d say the Mets have put themselves in a great position to make a run for the playoffs.